13 August 2013

Understanding the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an extension of the internet where all kinds of physical objects and devices from washing machines and refrigerators to laboratory instruments and personal health monitoring gadgets will be interconnected through internet communication protocols. One might imagine books, home appliances, food products, lights, medicines and even furniture could be hooked up with sensors, actuators, processors and communication units. Indeed, this world is already emerging with smart homes kitted out with lights and other technology that can be accessed and controlled from a smart phone for instance.

Wiki has this to say about the IoT: “The Internet of Things refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999. The concept of the Internet of Things first became popular through the Auto-ID Center at MIT and related market analysts publications. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is often seen as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things. If all objects and people in daily life were equipped with identifiers, they could be managed and inventoried by computers.”

As with the mythical “paperless office” though, one has to wonder whether a truly “smart world” will ever come to pass in the form of the IoT. Nevertheless, there are many people working towards this ideal. There are three visions of the IoT that are in focus, according to a report written by Paul Estrada-Martinez and Antonio Garcia-Macias in the appropriately named International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing. The team is based in the Department of Computer Science, at the CICESE Research Centre, in Ensenada, Mexico and they describe these three paradigms thus:

  1. Things-oriented: It addresses the design and creation of smart objects, exploring new forms of interaction in smart spaces as well as the development of IoT applications.

  2. Internet-oriented: This vision is related with communication protocols, architectures, network technologies for smart objects and services that harness this technological infrastructure.

  3. Semantic-oriented: It involves research about representation, storage, interconnection, searching and organization of information generated by smart objects and smart spaces aided by semantic technologies.

It is the third concept – the semantics – that the CICESE researchers have homed in on. They are therefore exploring how semantic information can enable richer interactions for IoT applications and systems. By building the necessary information infrastructure they can then provide a way to address the interaction problems that will emerge as people and things interact. For instance, a semantic approach will allow the following questions to be answered on an ad hoc basis in the IoT smart era: When a person enters a smart space, how to automatically know which smart objects are present and which ones are they? How to know the type and format of information provided by smart objects? How to determine what type of interactions are possible with a smart object?

“Beyond identifying certain characteristics of individual objects, our work also addresses physical spaces where systems are formed with collections of smart objects,” the team explains. “With these kinds of smart spaces it is possible to have context-aware and proactive systems that anticipate user needs.”

Research Blogging Icon Martinez P.E.E. & Macias J.A.G. (2013). Semantic interactions in the Internet of Things, International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, 13 (3/4) 167. DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2013.055464

Understanding the Internet of Things is a post from: David Bradley's Science Spot

via Science Spot http://sciencespot.co.uk/understanding-the-internet-of-things.html

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